The work below is by Khadijah Hassani as part of our MA Creative Writers takeover.
There is a cardigan that I have launched in the back of my wardrobe, and my mother told me to keep it safe.
It was sky blue and had mismatched buttons, and I listened to her until I didn’t. That cardigan was so precious and smelt of cinnamon and home, but it didn’t mean as much as it used to by the time I hit fifteen. It carried a weight that felt like drowning and sad stories and so many “almost(s)” that could have happened. I sat with a friend one day, and I let him touch my cardigan. He said it was soft, that it felt like lilies and comfort and that feeling you get when you’re dancing in the rain with someone you love. Who knew someone could be so poetic?
I said I was starting to hate it. That it reminded me of missing people and my mother’s glare and the hatred that seeped through whenever I thought of my father’s rage and his desperate need to be loved. I have that need, it climbs through in my words when I tell someone they look pretty or when I hug someone a little too tightly; thinking they need the same amount of affection I so once needed. My father had a way of showing his love in the way most of the men around me did, by shaming and staring and pressing me against cold stairs.
So, I gave my cardigan away. And it felt like those cold stairs, as if I’d lost something important, similar to the way I lost the love my mother once had for me. She now looks at me with tactile disappointment and disgust – “you can’t find your cardigan?” it was so special to her. It meant so much to her, my cardigan. How could I discard it so quickly? Just like she had once done; my father stole her only joy, the only thing that allowed her to love things, she warned me about it from the age of four. Told me not to make the same mistakes she did, because now look at her without her cardigan. She’s cold and lonely and the colours don’t seem so bright anymore and none of the puzzle pieces fit into place.
“Did you ever want to be a mother?” I sometimes asked.
Sometimes she replied in stares, and other times she would say: “Some people aren’t meant for mothering. I always wanted a daughter though.”
“Weren’t you scared I’d ruin my cardigan like you ruined yours?”
“Of course. And I was right.”
That cardigan meant nothing. It was damaged, so it had to go anyways, even if no one else could see the seams falling apart. And if I happen to get a new cardigan, I don’t think I’d be able to keep that one intact either. It all seems to lose itself after a while, maybe I get bored of my cardigan, or maybe my cardigan gets bored of me. Either way, I’ll lose it again.
My cardigan might belong somewhere else, it never did know what it wanted, but even if I did get a new one, it would never be able to replace the old one. The only comfort I have is knowing that vultures are always seeking food, and they’ll lick and rip at everything that breathes. They’ll wait until you’ve tired yourself out so that the feast will be easier to scoff down. Even if it is just a damaged cardigan.
Don’t worry, mother, hungry creatures never ask questions.